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HMRC internal manual

National Minimum Wage Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
, see all updates

Working time: time work; absences - breaks from work

Relevant legislation

The legislation that applies to this page is as follows:

For pay reference periods commencing

* on or after 6 April 2015; National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015, regulation 35
* before 6 April 2015; National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999, regulation 15(7)


For a worker performing time work, the time when a worker is not working and taking a break, such as a lunch or rest break, is not counted as working time. It does not matter whether such breaks are paid or not (see also NMWM09080).

However, when considering such absences it is appropriate to establish that a break from work is genuinely taken, paying particular care to ensure that the break is;

  • not a time when a worker is simply waiting for work (NMWM08260), or on call or stand by (NMWM08270), and
  • actually taken and not simply a time when a worker is entitled to take a break but has not taken it (for example, working through a lunch break to meet a deadline).